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Japanese Particles Guide: Wa, Ni, Ga and More!

Japanese particles are small words that indicate relations of words within a sentence. Most of Japanese learners are not found of particles and most teachers don’t make things easier. If you have trouble keeping all the particles straight, this guide will illuminate you by explaining how to perfectly use them. Take on the quiz at the end of this guide to test your understanding of Japanese Particles!

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How to use Japanese Particles?

は (wa)

は (wa) follows the topic the speaker wants to talk about. Therefore, wa(は)is often called topic marking particle. The “topic” is often the grammatical subject, but can be anything (including the grammatical object, and sometimes the verb), and it may also follow some other particles.

japanese particles は ha

Formation

[ A ] wa [ B ] desu.
= [ A ] is [ B ].

Example

昨日雨だった。
Kinō wa ame datta.
It was rainy yesterday

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を (o)

を (o) marks the grammatical object of a sentence. It follows nouns and noun phrases.

japanese particles を O

Formation

Noun + o (を) + verb

Example

私はチョコ食べます。
Watashi wa choko o tabemasu.
I eat chocolate.

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も (mo)

も (mo) functions as “also” or “too” in English. It is used to indicate that something that has previously been stated also holds true for the item currently under discussion. It replaces ga, wa or o when used.

japanese particles も mo

Formation

[Object1] は [property1/action1] です
[Object2] も [property1/action1] です.

Example

A: 私はフランス人です。
Watashi wa furansujin desu.
I am French.
B: 私フランス人です。
Watashi mo furansujin desu.
I am also French.

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に (ni)

に (ni) indicates a place toward where someone or something moves. It is preceded by the name of the place and followed by a verb which indicates a moving action such as iku (行く) “to go.”
It is also used with giving/receiving verbs and can then mean “from”.
In the case of passive verbs, it marks the grammatical agent, making it the same as “by” in English. (i.e. “my wallet was stolen by my brother.” ).
に is also used to indicate the location of existence when combined with the verbs いる or ある, making it the Japanese version of “at” (in some instances).

japanese particles に ni

Formation

place + ni (に)

Example

学校行きます。
Gakkō ni ikimasu.
I go to school.

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へ (e)

へ (e) is basically the same as に, except it emphasizes direction over arrival. The main difference is usage. へ is never used as “from”, “by”, “at”.
In addition, the particle の can follow the へ particle directly, whereas it cannot follow に.

japanese particles へ e

Formation

location/direction + e(へ)

Example

手紙を送りました。
Kare e tegami o okurimasita.
I sent him a letter.

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で (de)

で (de) is used to indicate location of an action. The performer of the action (the subject) is followed by either of the particles wa or ga, and the place is followed by de.
However it can’t be used with with the verbs いる or ある.

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Formation

location + de (で)

Example

私は家 本を読みます。
Watashi wa ie de hon o yomimasu.
I read books at home.

Check the Grammar Bank for More Examples Now

が (ga)

が (ga) marks the grammatical subject of a sentence when it is first introduced to a conversation. It can also be used to join sentences, like the word “but”, but that が is technically a different word. The particle が can also be used to emphasize the subject or distinguish it from others. While は is used when a question word (who, where, etc) comes after the topic in the sentence (レストランどこですか。), we use the particle が when the question word is the subject or part of it.

japanese particles が ga

Example

だれ 来ますか。
Dare ga kimasu ka.
Who will come?

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から (kara)

から (kara) indicates the source of an object or action. This starting position may be either a point in space (in which case it is translated as “from”), or a point in time (in which case it is translated as “since” or “after”).

japanese particles から kara

Formation

Noun + kara (から)

Example

学校から 家までどれくらいかかりますか。
Gakkō kara ie made dorekurai kakarimasu ka?
How long does it take you to get home from school?

Check the Grammar Bank for More Examples Now

まで (made)

まで (made) indicates that an action/effect extends or reaches a specified limit or a point in time or space. It is therefore equivalent to the English expression “until.”

japanese particles まで made

Formation

Noun + made (まで)

Example

彼女と7時まで ドライブしました。
Kanojo to shichi-ji made doraibu shimashita.
I went driving around with my girlfriend until 7 o’clock.

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と (to)

と (to) is used to join nouns together into an exhaustive list that functions as a single noun: ”with”, “and”. It’s also the particle used to indicate a direct quote (from someone’s mind or speech), functioning like quotation marks in English.

japanese particles と to

Formation

Noun + to (と) + Noun

Example

魚が好きです。
Niku to sakana ga suki desu.
I like meat and fish.

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や (ya)

や (ya) is used in the same way as the first sense of と, but the list is not exhaustive. It means “such things as A, B, and C”.

japanese particles や ya

Formation

AやB
AやBや

Example

黄色の花が咲いていた。
Aka ya kīro no hana ga saiteita.
There were red, yellow and other color flowers blooming.

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の (no)

の (no) indicates possession (functioning like the English “apostrophe-S”). In the structure A no B, B belongs to A, however, many nouns act like adjectives when followed by no.
It directly follows nouns and noun phrases.

japanese particles の no

Formation

Object1 + の + Object2

Example

あなた 名前はなんですか。
Anata no namae wa nan desuka?
What’s your name?

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ね (ne)

ね (ne) is used at the end of sentences, basically in the same way as an English tag question. If said with rising intonation, it indicates a request for confirmation from the listener (i.e. “It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it?” ), whereas if said with falling intonation, it’s used as rhetorical device (i.e. “It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it.” )

japanese particles ね ne

Formation

End of the sentence + ne (ね)

Example

これは美味しいです
Kore wa oishii desu ne .
This is delicious, isn’t it?

Check the Grammar Bank for More Examples Now

よ (yo)

よ (yo) is used by the speaker to express a strong conviction about something or to emphatically declare something.

japanese particles よ yo

Formation

End of the sentence + yo (よ)

Example

明日私は行く
Ashita Watashi wa iku yo .
I’ll go tomorrow!

Check the Grammar Bank for More Examples Now

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In this lesson your learnt how to use those Japanese Particles:
  • は (wa)
  • を (o)
  • も (mo)
  • に (ni)
  • へ (e)
  • で (de)
  • が (ga)
  • から (kara)
  • まで (made)
  • と (to)
  • や (ya)
  • の (no)
  • ね (ne)
  • よ (yo)
  • Are you ready to test your Japanese Particles knowledge?
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